Higher education

University of Iowa Liberal arts college faculty rebukes new president

This is a 'reprimand'

Bruce Harreld answers a question during a news conference after being announced as the 21st president of the University
Bruce Harreld answers a question during a news conference after being announced as the 21st president of the University of Iowa at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City, Iowa, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Harreld was chosen out of four finalists that the Board of Regents interviewed earlier in the day. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Several University of Iowa faculty, staff, and student groups recently have issued votes of no confidence or letters of disappointment in the Board of Regents for the process it followed in hiring businessman J. Bruce Harreld to become the next University of Iowa president.

But on Wednesday the Faculty Assembly for the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences — the largest on campus — become the first group to come out against Harreld himself.

“We spoke with our constituencies and decided we needed to make a unique and strong statement,” said UI language and literature professor Russ Ganim, who serves as president of the college’s Faculty Assembly. “Our concerns deal with professional ethics.”

During the group’s meeting Wednesday evening, about 65 of its members met in closed session and unanimously agreed to pass a motion of censure against Harreld for misrepresentations on his resume. Specifically, the motion cites Harreld’s representation of himself as managing principal of Executing Strategy, LLC, in Avon, Colo. -- a company The Gazette first reported is not actually registered with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office or known by the local Chamber of Commerce.

The company had been registered in Massachusetts, but it was dissolved earlier this year.

Harreld, a former top executive at IBM and Boston Market Company who more recently taught at Harvard Business School, also failed to cite co-authors for nine of 12 publications listed on his resume, which the motion states is prohibited in the UI operations manual.

“Whereas professional ethics and responsibility in any field require accurate and honest self-presentation on a resume … the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Faculty Assembly censures incoming President Harreld for his failure of professional ethics,” according to the motion.

The motion of censure does not have any implication on the faculty’s willingness to work with Harreld in the future, Ganim said.


“The censure is a reprimand,” he said. “It’s a statement with respect to what we felt were inaccuracies on the (curriculum vitae), and we will talk about how to move forward at a later date.”

Harreld’s resume concerns are not limited to the realm of academia, Ganim said.

“These are established practices across the board,” he said. “I’m not sure there is any excuse in this case.”

Ganim also criticized Parker Executive Search — the firm hired by the Board of Regents to facilitate the hunt for a 21st UI president.

“The search firm at the very least should have worked with him on this matter,” Ganim said.

Harreld was among four candidates identified by a 21-member search committee and brought to campus earlier this month. Other candidates included Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov, Tulane University Provost Michael Bernstein, and Ohio State University Provost Joseph Steinmetz. The Board of Regents had asked for public feedback and said they would use it in deciding who to hire.

The day before making its final decisions Sept. 3, the board received a report from the Faculty Senate and the results of 760-person survey showing dismal support for Harreld.

Harreld, nonetheless, was chosen to become the 21st UI president Nov. 2 at an annual salary of $590,000, with a five-year deferred compensation package worth $1 million. Although he’s not on the clock for another month or so, UI officials have said he has been reaching out to faculty members.

Details about those contacts were not immediately made public, as UI officials said he’s keeping his own schedule and making his own travel arrangements.

Ganim said Harreld hasn’t contacted him to date.


UI psychology professor Bob McMurray said he’s heard rumblings about similar motions of censure among faculty members in other colleges, and he wouldn’t be surprised if more censures emerge in the coming days.

“This is something that lots of faculty across campus have been discussing,” he said, adding that lots of the dissension around Harreld’s hire so far has been related to the politics and economics involved.

“But lost in this are basic questions of right and wrong,” McMurray said. “Whether or not you think Harreld is qualified to be president or whether you think the regents should have chosen him, the information was inaccurate.”

And, McMurray said, professors are charged with holding each other accountable and setting an example for students.

“This is just a very public rebuke,” he said. “It’s, ‘Welcome to the University of Iowa. We hold ourselves to high ethical standards. We hope you do the same.’”

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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